March 19, 5:30 pm:
March 20, 5:30 pm:
**All Committee Meetings take place in the WRC Conference Room unless otherwise noted.
**All meetings are subject to change, please check the website for updates.
UPCOMING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
DEADLINE: April 12, 2018
New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
DEADLINE: Rolling (Seed Grant)
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans
DEADLINE: Ongoing (contact USDA office)
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Vermont Community Foundation
Windham Regional Commission
Village Sanitation Pilot Study
Deadline: March 15, 2018
Upcoming Grants will
be a regular column in the
WRC Newsletter, for
for your projects
please contact Susan at
WRC Offers Lidar and Ortho Viewer
Have you heard about all this new lidar data and wondered what it is and how to view it? WRC has created an on-line viewer that lets anyone explore not just lidar data, but also orthophotos (air photos) and USGS topographic maps.
What is lidar? It's a technology that allows us to create a high-resolution picture of the Earth's surface; stone walls, old roads, historic river channels, and many other features become visible. Technically, this viewer doesn't show you the actual lidar data, but one derivative product: a hillshade. It's like a gray-scale image of the Earth if vegetation and buildings were stripped away. Other derivative products could include contours, slope, and aspect.
You can check out the viewer
Good news! As of February 2018, the Windham Region (along with all of Vermont) now has complete lidar coverage!
Energy Planning -Nearing the Final Stretch
The Regional Energy Plan is nearing completion with a projected vote of adoption at the end of April. The planning process, which started over the summer of 2016, has included an analysis of current energy use, compilation of energy potential maps, a series of stakeholder meetings to identify policies and pathways to attaining the State goals of the plan, with Energy Committee meetings throughout reviewing material and generating drafts. Throughout December and January, the WRC hosted four public meetings to gather input on the draft. The Energy, Natural Resources, and Project Review Committees reviewed the compiled public comment and reviewed the draft in their January 23
meeting. The joint committees voted to modify the proposed policy on utility scale wind to be restricted only in Resource Lands rather than the previously stated position of no further development of utility scale wind within the Region. This change was driven largely by public comments we received.
The Executive Board has reviewed the draft and voted at its February meeting to recommend the Full Commission move the draft forward to public hearing
. The Full Commission will vote on moving the draft to hearing at its meeting on February 27
. Following the approval from Full Commission, the hearing process will begin with notification sent on the two hearings to be held during April with a final vote of adoption at the end of the month.
The Green River Watershed Alliance rolls out the Confluence Project
In 2017, the Green River Watershed Alliance (GRWA) was formed with the support of the WRC and through a Watershed Resilience grant from the High Meadows Fund, to be a "community-led voice for the stewardship and protection of the Green River and its surrounding landscape." It aims to bring together residents from Marlboro, Halifax, and Guilford so they may establish the importance of their river, learn about its systems, and create watershed identity and a sense of place.
One of the ways it plans to do this is through the Confluence Project, a collaborative effort between the WRC, Vermont Performance Lab, and three area schools. This project will develop watershed curricula that integrates science and the arts for the schools, and host a suite of public events based on watershed science, flood resilience, civic engagement, and public arts initiatives. The Alliance has a diverse and innovative group of community partners; and th
ese upcoming events reflect that diversity well.
Engaged participants look on during a stream table demonstration facilitated by the Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative, the lead inspiration in organization model for the Green River Watershed Alliance.
From winter headwaters snow-shoeing and vernal pool identification in the spring, to artist talks and a lantern-lit evening boat paddle, community forums and stream table demonstrations, the Confluence Project brings variety in public engagement within this watershed. In addition to these public events, the Confluence Project has partnered with three regional grade schools to conduct educational watersheds programming by investigating stream geomorphology, habitats for aquatic organisms, and human-stream interactions and combing these principals with art concepts. All three schools are hosting a Vermont Performance Lab artist in residence who will take these science principals and augment students' understanding through applications in art.
Some upcoming highlights are:
- Sunday, February 18: Headwater Snowshoe at South Pond in Marlboro
- Saturday, March 17: Opening Reception at Brattleboro Museum and Art Center
- Saturday, March 17: Conservation Easement Workshop for Landowners
- Saturday, April 14: Vernal Pool Identification Training
- Thursday, May 3: Panel Discussion- "Finding Meaning in our Shared Watersheds"
For more information about the Green River Watershed Alliance and to RSVP to any of the events, please contact WRC Planner Emily Davis, at
, or 257-4547 x 116.
WRC Formalizes the Clean Water Advisory Committee
Since the passing of Act 64, Vermont's Clean Water Act (VCWA), in 2015, the State as a whole has effectively adopted its "all-in" approach to water quality efforts. Directly relevant to regional planning commissions, the VCWA states that, "...if funding is available, ANR shall contract with regional planning commissions to produce or assist in producing basin plans."
While this assistance is mandated with the passing of this legislation, the WRC has independently enjoyed a long-standing working relationship with its respective DEC Basin Planner, Marie Caduto. In partnership with the DEC, the WRC's Natural Resources Committee has led efforts to assist in drafting the Tactical Basin Plans (or, a large watershed-scale planning document that identifies priority water quality projects in a basin), providing outreach to affected municipalities, and help prioritize projects based in part on local needs and interests. All this work related to Basin Planning, water quality outreach, and project implementation had been done through the existing Clean Water Advisory Committee (CWAC), which is an extension of the Natural Resources Committee.
Led by Staff Planner Emily Davis, Executive Director Chris Campany, and Natural Resources Committee Chair Gabrielle Ciuffreda, the WRC has recently formalized this commitment to water quality planning outreach and assistance by voting on the "Charge of the CWAC" during an Executive Board meeting on January 9th.
Fundamentally, the CWAC Charge states that the group "shall serve in an advisory capacity to the Commission and its Executive Board, relating to activities and policy development regarding the waters of the Windham Region." The CWAC will also, "provide local and regional input regarding project priorities and water quality issues important to the Windham Region, and serves in an advisory capacity to the WRC Executive Board and Full Commission."
Looking to the months ahead, the WRC will be soliciting participation in the CWAC from relevant stakeholders (such as municipal representatives, watershed groups like the Connecticut River Conservancy or the Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance, or relevant local community initiatives like the Green River Watershed Alliance), as it prepares to help develop the draft of the Tactical Basin Plan for the Deerfield River Watershed (Basin 12-13) and provide appropriate outreach or assistance to towns.
To see the full Charge of the Clean Water Advisory Committee, as approved by the Executive Board, visit the WRC's
For more information about the WRC's water quality planning efforts overall, contact Emily Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 257-4547 x 116.
Our Regional Energy Plan's Long Journey
Staff, commissioners and committee members have been working on a regional energy plan that complies with Act 174 for nearly a year and a half. At its February meeting, the Windham Regional Commission will be voting to move the draft plan to public hearing. In addition to discussions at open meetings of the WRC, our Executive Board, and our committees, we've held forums and public meetings throughout the region and throughout the process.
The WRC advocated for comprehensive energy planning by regions and towns going back to Governor Shumlin's Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission in 2012, and that those plans should have greater standing in Public Utility Commission (formerly Public Service Board) deliberations and that those plans should inform future iterations of the state Comprehensive Energy Plan. Our purpose was to develop plans that not only better inform energy siting decisions, but to also inform what would, could and should be done to reduce consumption of non-renewable energy and increase energy efficiency. The provisions of Act 174, regional and town standing before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and subsequent PUC rules are far from perfect but move comprehensive energy planning in the state forward.
Much of the attention in the development of our draft energy plan has been on the siting of energy generation; specifically utility scale wind power generation. Siting is certainly an important issue, but I would urge everyone to look at the broader issues raised in the plan; notably how much energy we use, the types and sources of that energy, and what we can realistically do about consumption, efficiency, and switching to renewables. Regional commissions establish policies, but we issue no permits. State commissions review, interpret and apply our policies. We can and do assist towns with the development of their plans, policies and bylaws. And we can and do pursue non-regulatory solutions. Examples are grant funding we've secured to help schools and other public buildings implement modern wood heat systems, to help towns improve the efficiency of their buildings, and to support renewable energy generation projects by businesses and non-profits. The WRC has been a leader in energy policy at the regional and state level, and we have made support for energy efficiency and switching to renewables a priority. But as the energy consumption, generation targets, and policy limitations of the plan show, the real change will come about at the household level, and the choices we all make that influence our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions footprint.